Jacobean ‘Cottagecore’: Cultural Meanings of Floral Imagery in the Seventeenth Century

Laura Ashley prints, pastoral themes in Romantic literature and art movements like Pre-Raphealitism, Art Nouveau, Baroque and Arts and Crafts have left modern viewers of art and textiles with cultural ideas about the meaning of floral embroidery and floral imagery which would not have featured in the conciousness of a Jacobean audience. Our impressions of the beautiful scrolling floral embroidery at the turn of the seventeenth century might make us feel that they were delicate, ‘light’, feminine, and unconnected with materialism and the weight of wealth and social status. however, to a contemporary audience this would heve been very difference. Unisex, expensive, valuable and an instant indicator of status, this type of decoration was worn by the highest elite, and primarily meant, not ‘nature’ and ‘simple living’, but ‘money’ and ‘power’.

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